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The Imaginary Invalid
Comedy made its IPFW premier in 1964
By Eddie Torres
Fort Wayne Reader
For the school’s 50th anniversary, IPFW’s Department of Theater has been taking a trip through the past this season, revisiting plays that the department has produced in decades past. Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid first appeared on IPFW stages back in November 1964, the first play produced at the school. The 2014 edition of The Imaginary Invalid — which begins its run on Friday, November 14 — features P. Michael Schaub, an alumnus from the original production, in the role of Dr. Purgeon.
Back in 1964, Schaub played Argan, the hypochondriac of the play’s title. Argan has racked up such an enormous pile of bills due to his imagined illnesses and maladies that he sees only one solution — he must marry his daughter Angelique to a doctor, or at least a doctor’s son. In the 1600s, marrying one’s daughter to a doctor wasn’t the coup it is considered today, but in every other aspect, Moliere’s comedy is timeless, and just as cynical, funny, and insightful as anything written today.
In his liner notes for the 2014 production, Schuab writes that when he came to IPFW to study Mechanical Engineering in 1964, the campus wasn’t even entirely built. “Many classrooms were not finished with wires still being pulled out of the walls for light switches and wall plugs,” he writes. “With each passing day Kettler Hall began to take shape, the only building in a vast and vacant field.”
Far from home, Schuab writes that he saw a notice for auditions and tried out for The Imaginary Invalid out of pure boredom, never having been in a play before. “The director, Bob Tolan, was an imposing figure, well over six foot,” writes Schaub. “He became the leader of a small but dedicated group of followers, performing in the new Purdue Indiana Theatre, more fondly known then as PIT.”
Schaub eventually changed his major to theater, and racked up a long list of performances while at the school, including The Madwoman of Chaillot; Playboy of the Western World; and Didi in Waiting for Godot. “When I was offered a chance to play the role of Dr. Purgeon, the role that Tolan performed 50 years ago at IPFW in the original production of The Imaginary Invalid, it was a decision made without hesitation,” Schuab writes.
The 2014 production of The Imaginary Invalid features Robert Phillips as Argan, Kate Black as Toinette the maid; Brooke O’Mara as Angelique; and Brady Schrock as Cleante, Angelique’s love interest.
But the photos here are from the 1964 production, while the watercolor is from a card painted for Schaub (who played Argan) by Lynn Sickmiller, who played Toinette) in the 1964 cast.
IPFW Department of Theatre presents The Imaginary Invalid
Directed by John O’Connell
November 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 2014 at 8 p.m.
November 16, 2014 at 2 p.m.
Sign Language Interpreted Performance – Sunday, November 16, 2014
$5 IPFW Students/ High School Students/Children under 18
$11 Groups of 10 or more
$10 Other College Students with ID
Children Under 6 Will Not Be Admitted
Patrons are encouraged to call in advance to reserve their tickets. Please arrive early. Latecomers will be seated at the discretion of management or at intermission.
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